Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 21 November 2018 at 10:21 GMT

Global opposition to victim blaming in Irish rape trial

Socialist Party Ireland reporters

On Tuesday, 13 November Solidarity TD (member of parliament) and Socialist Party member Ruth Coppinger held up a thong in Ireland's national parliament, the Dáil, while questioning Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the outrageous victim blaming of a 17-year old young woman in a rape trial in Cork. The previous week, in summing up the trial, defence barrister Elizabeth O'Connell said:

"Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front."

It is estimated only 10% of the sexual assaults or rapes that are even reported result in a conviction.

One third of these convictions result in suspended or partially suspended sentences. The above comments have only helped add insult to the injury that rape survivors face.

Ruth correctly pointed out, that it may while it may seem incongruous to hold up a thong in the national parliament, it's even more so for underwear to be used in court as evidence against a woman.

Her words and actions were a defiant stance against the blatant injustice of misogynistic rape myths being perpetuated in open court.

They are once again illustrative of how socialists can use the platform of parliament as a powerful voice for the oppressed and exploited that live under capitalism.

ROSA - the Socialist Feminist Movement, of which the Socialist Party is a central part, called protests against victim blaming in the courts.

In Cork, 500 marched to the courthouse where the comments were made, many leaving underwear on the steps and railings of the building.

Five hundred also protested in Dublin, 250 in Belfast, 50 in Limerick and 40 in Galway.

Unprecedented publicity

Ruth's bold actions, alongside these protests helped bring the reality of victim blaming in the capitalist courts to both national and significantly international attention.

The level of coverage received by both the print and broadcast media globally is simply unprecedented in our experience (see list below), as indeed were the actions themselves.

The hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent alongside pictures of thongs has also trended on social media internationally as an act of solidarity by women disgusted by the comments of O'Connell, and the culture of victim blaming that exists within the courts system.

This attention and solidarity, speaks to a growing anger and radicalisation in opposition to gender-based violence and harassment, and the oppression of women generally in capitalist society.

The mood amongst women, young and LGBTQ people that "enough is enough" is now widespread. This can be seen with the emergence of the #MeToo phenomenon and movement late last year on social media, in the mass movements against machismo and violence against women in Latin America through the #NiUnaMenos movement and in the strike against sexism that took place this year in the Spanish State on International Women's Day.

Such movements come at a time when capitalism in the proverbial "belly of the beast" is led by the "grabber-in-chief", Donald Trump.

In Ireland, the radicalisation outlined above was dramatically witnessed by the historic referendum to repeal the 8th amendment (the constitutional ban on abortion) linked with the introduction of abortion up to 12 weeks on request.

In April, thousands took to the streets of cities across Ireland after the acquittal of Ulster Rugby players in a rape trial where similar methods of victims blaming were used.

Google workers worldwide, including in Dublin, staged a walkout as part of global action by the company's workforce against sexual harassment, pay inequality and racist discrimination.

It is clear that there is now a real potential for workers to organise in their workplace against sexual harassment. The trade union movement has a key role and responsibility to spearhead such a campaign.

International Women's Day

Ruth's actions have also garnered significant support for the Socialist Party and ROSA's call for International Women's Day 2019 to be a day of protest and walkouts, pointing to the possibility and need for a global strike against sexist inequality.

Speaking on Indian TV, Ruth pointed to the example of the Google workers as the kind of action that can be taken against sexual violence and harassment. Rosa is calling for trade unions, student unions, feminist and LGBTQ groups to support this call and have suggested the following initial demands that such protests and walkouts could organise around:

Why capitalism must be challenged

Such a movement should also fight for important legal reforms to counter victim blaming and rape myths being used in court cases - such as education for the judiciary and juries; advocates to support plaintiffs; massive funding and resources to end long court delays.

Judges themselves must be held to account for their actions in facilitating victim blaming and giving lenient sentences to those found guilty of rape and sexual assault, they should be elected and subject to recall.

We need a real justice system that is run by and in the interests of the working class and the oppressed.

The Cork case is unfortunately not an isolated example. We live in a capitalist system that has inequality, sexism and oppression in its core.

This reflects itself in the victim blaming and rape myths that exist within the institutions of its state such as the Gardaí and the courts.

Within society at large capitalism helps to foster a culture of sexism (which in turn helps foster these myths and victim blaming) that also ensures that victims of sexual violence are denied justice.

The new global feminist revolt in Ireland and internationally needs socialist feminism - because the whole capitalist system is incapable of dishing out anything but more inequality , exploitation and oppression.

Such a movement must link with a struggle of the whole working class - uniting under a socialist programme, such a movement can spell liberation and equality for all.

For a list of links to the international press coverage for the #ThisIsNotConsent protests click here to go to the CWI website and scroll to the end of the article

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

Related links:


triangleNorthern Ireland: Health workers take action over understaffing and pay equality

triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

triangleNorthern Ireland: Uniting the working class to transcend division

triangleThe Brexit battles still to come

triangleBrexit theatrics continue


triangleHong Kong protests: No let-up in trial of strength

triangleNew twist in Derby TUSC election agent case

triangleSolidarity with Irish rape trial protests


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleMexico: police silence on horrific attack on CWI member

triangleLibres y Combativas: striking for women's rights in the Spanish state


triangleBook review: She Said - Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

triangleImperialist tensions escalate as world economy teeters


triangleSecret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed


triangleClimate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists



Strikes: more determined than ever


Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle


South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public



Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action



Social workers lobby Hull City Council


Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together


Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"



Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay



Workplace news in brief


West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains


Climate change

Climate change election debate - Corbyn offers best green solutions but needs to go further


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Royal Mail

Royal Mail court ruling - national reps meeting and solidarity action essential



Jared Wood overwhelmingly elected to RMT executive

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019